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I completed my music studies at Los Angeles Music Academy back in 1999 and was ready to jump-start my ambition of playing music professionally, but it was not to turn out well …

I did my best to get gigs, but due to the extreme competition in L.A. as well as the impact my social anxiety had in my life, I quickly ran out of what little money I had. And when the landlord refused to wait any longer for my rent, I was evicted from my apartment in Pasadena.

No worries I thought! I’ll sell everything I can, gather up what I have left, including all my drums, and take off on a journey.

The moment I left the parking lot, my van screached to a halt and refused to budge.

Lovely.

So I went to my friend’s house and worked on my van. The next morning, with a wopping $70 to my name, I got on highway 101 and headed north, to where I wasn’t sure and really didn’t care.

I got as far as Santa Barbara where I decided to spend the evening in the hills ….

I woke up the next morning and hiked in the mountains until I came across an oasis with a waterfall spilling into a pool of cool water which I dipped into and took in the beauty of the area. I got out and laid on the rocks with the sun warming my body.

I noticed two dragonflies buzzing around me as well as a butterfly … they stuck around for the entire morning!

The magic was in the air, filled with beauty and possibility.

And denial.

As to my situation with now less than $70 to my name, a 1/4 tank of gas, and no clue how I’d manage, it slowly started to sink in … along with a bit of panic.

Over the next 6 months …

I would drive 26 miles south of Vista Point, a place I could legally park my van overnight along the coast, down to Santa Barbara every day and knock on doors to find work. I gathered a list of potential work doing anything from computer tech support to landscaping.

But day after day, no matter what I did, who I spoke with, or how hard I tried, I got zero, zilch, nada, not a damn thing!

In the midst of dealing with often having zero dollars (not even change!), zero gas, zero food, and zero hope, stranded, stuck, and stymied, I’d focus on just making through another day.

And somehow, I did just that!

Along the way, I learned some invaluable lessons that would stay with me ….

The 3 Things I discovered

  1. As my grandma used to always tell me -“where there is a will, there is ALWAYS a way! Somehow, someway I made it through each and every day, and within 2 months of looking for work, I got a call from a woman who needed my coaching to help her tenants in her Italian mansion, get this, transition out of her home after having crazy parties and causing thousands of dollars in damages!
    So I got to stay at this gorgeous home for free while I helped each tenant find a new place to live and tend to her 40 fruit trees in her backyard. It was a glorious month and thought that the hardship was over. But I was to be mistaken and ended up back in my van after she changed her mind about me staying indefinitely. Oh well!
  2. Magic happens – I honestly don’t know exactly how I got by each day, but somehow I did!! Amazing things would happen unexpectedly that would get me to the next day … and the next, and the next. Check out my story called $622 to get an idea of the magic that would happen!
  3. Unconditional happiness – now this might sound pretty radical, but one of the best lessons I’ve learned – that instead of needing certain conditions and circumstances to be “happy,” I found unexpected moments of joy and even delight.
    I remember taking a 60-second shower (the time 1 quarter would give me) by the beach, and I walked out into the warmth of the sun and the glitter on the ocean. I took a deep breath in and slowly let it out …. aaaaahhh, nice! And in that moment, I felt a peace and sense of well-being that took me by surprise. Here I was, penniless and without a plan, and somehow I was feeling beyond happy!!
    And I realized I was ok, more than ok.

So there you have it! That’s my story of how I learned some valuable lessons in life while living in my van!

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